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IanButty

Image Identification: Four Evangelists?

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While I was in Alta in Norway last week, I photographed this representation on the wall of the cathedral. At the time I thought it was the standard symbols of the four evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John), but it is only now I am back in the UK I have realised it isn't as simple as that. The four symbols are normally: Matthew: An Angel; Mark: A (winged) lion; Luke: a (winged) bull and John: an Eagle. I am trying to caption/keyword this for alamy submission. Anyone any idea what these symbols are (particularly the one for Luke) and how they relate to the four evangelists?  They look like a lamb, a bull, a clam and a pigeon!

 

 

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Looks to me like lion, bull, angel's wing and eagle.

 

Alan

 

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1 minute ago, Inchiquin said:

Looks to me like lion, bull, angel's wing and eagle.

 

Alan

 

Hi Alan,

That's what I thought initially, but the angel is never associated with Luke, almost always Matthew, and in very rare occasions Mark.

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Beats me, and I'm the namesake of an evangelist, but according to WP Peter Brandes is also inspired by Greek mythology.  Maybe it's a syncretic reference.

Edited by spacecadet

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I don't buy an artist whose work is inspired by sacred iconography getting the symbols of the Evangelists "mixed up". There's something we're missing.

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OK, here's my take on it. I don't know much about early Christian history but from what I can see it was St Irenaeus who identified the four gospels we know today as the only valid ones. It was also he who associated the four creatures mentioned in Revelations with the evangelists. However, the creatures are listed in Revelations in the following order: lion, ox, man, eagle. I think what the artist has done here is to associate them with the gospels in the same order. In other words he is saying that Irenaeus's identification is not the only possible one.

 

Alan

 

Edited by Inchiquin

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My interpretation.........for what it's worth ,  I think it's a medieval art "Tetramorph" depicting the Four Evangelists as Elements as in Earth, Fire, Water and Air. Hence the shapes depicting animals associated with said elements.

 

Ermm.......I think!

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5 hours ago, spacecadet said:

I don't buy an artist whose work is inspired by sacred iconography getting the symbols of the Evangelists "mixed up". There's something we're missing.

 

Those were my thoughts exactly, which was why I've asked the question.  To throw yet another variable into the mix, my wife is convinced that the creature top left is a ram / lamb - again another very strong Christian connection with that symbol.  Ram was my first thought too, but I now think that Lion is more likely.

 

3 hours ago, Inchiquin said:

OK, here's my take on it. I don't know much about early Christian history but from what I can see it was St Irenaeus who identified the four gospels we know today as the only valid ones. It was also he who associated the four creatures mentioned in Revelations with the evangelists. However, the creatures are listed in Revelations in the following order: lion, ox, man, eagle. I think what the artist has done here is to associate them with the gospels in the same order. In other words he is saying that Irenaeus's identification is not the only possible one.

 

Alan

 

 

Alan, I think that may be the most likely explanation.  Especially as historically there have been some variances in the sequence in the past, although I have not found this sequence listed anywhere.

 

Thanks all for you input - all I need to do now is work out what keywords to add and how best to describe it in the caption! ;-)

Ian.

 

 

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I was expecting a joke here in the vein of fork handles!

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